Kudzanai-Violet Hwami brings together visual sections in her work through June 12, 2022 at Kunsthaus Pasquart in Biel, Switzerland, revealing an individual and complex perspective on life in southern Africa.

She explores different avenues regarding photographs and digital image montages, which she uses to make large-scale bursts on paper or sometimes canvas with heavily pigmented oil paint, frequently using different media and strategies such as screen printing, pastel or charcoal.

Kudzanai-Violet Hwami draws inspiration from a range of sources, including archival, web and nude images, as well as private photos, such as self-portraits and family photographs. From her memories, Kudzanai-Violet Hwami visits the places she knew as a child in Zimbabwe creates an egalitarian universe around an advanced narrative of the country.

Kudzanai-Violet Hwami plays with the concept of a perfect African world where there is no space, no place and no boundaries, while referring to established societies and customs. Many of the images in his work are affected by the increasing pervasiveness of subcultures, for example, Afro-punk and grunge culture in Kenya and South Africa.

Capture-décran-2022-05-13-à-13.56.26-copie Kudzanai-Violet Hwami Unveils Her Memories at Kunsthaus Pasquart in Biel
Kudzanai-Violet Hwami at Kunsthaus Pasquart

Various impacts of music, such as ZimHeavy and Afrobeats, writing and his own self-disclosure excursion are also important points for his work. The incorporation of arbitrary images found through internet entertainment as an additional initial step is a welcome for the free play of the creative mind, while self-portrait material remains a source of reference.

The themes established during his encounters of geographical separation or examination of his own personality in photographs, reflection on the body and its representation, run as a common thread through his work.

Her paintings can be considered personal, as they are prompted by her sojourns in Zimbabwe, South Africa and England, and are firmly linked to her effort to capture her character within the African diaspora.

Kudzanai-Violet Hwami uses photos of her family from the 1970s, which she treats as computerized compositions before painting them on canvas.

In her family photos, the defensive figure of the mother is central, as seen in « Family Portrait » created in 2021 and « Lotus » in 2018. Her father appears in « Father in Pin Light » in 2017, and her twin siblings, in « Epilog – Returning to the Garden » created in 2016. The two children lie on their sides and look at each other in a fetal situation against a bright background. An extraordinary delicacy emerges from this scene, where the bodies seem to be suspended and saved in an intrauterine space, in a quiet haptic correspondence.

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Their skin is somewhat covered with vernix caseosa, the defensive waxy layer of babies. The title, which offers a re-visitation of times of guiltlessness while insinuating a climax, communicates confidence for the future generation embodied by the twins.

We experience happy bodies, exposed or clothed, where dark and strange characters meet, as in « You are killing my soul », « Atonement » or « Innspirit-ed » created in 2021. These incorporate numerous nudes of mutilated men, as in « Jonga 1 and 2 », or « Trauma Pond 2 » qio dates 2022, which the artist uses as a kind of projection surface for his past body orientation task, in order to present the revolutionary limit of bodies as a whole.

Kudzanai-Violet Hwami‘s advantage in the body and nudes emerged during her training at Wimbledon, where she investigated variety field painting and presented illustrative drawings of nudes and representations of porn in her composition. Painted in dazzling yellows, blues, and greens, the material bases evoke the photos of articles that circulated on Tumblr in the 2010s, featuring darker-looking models on bases of gorgeous hues.

The visual appeal of the representations, but also the realization of how little space black bodies have in Western art and how they are treated, pushed her into her situation as a painter. At this time, self-assurance also became a developing topic through online entertainment, with #blackout becoming a famous hashtag under which many people forwarded photos and overflowed the web to make representations of themselves.

Often, her compositions free the figure from the endorsed implications of her unique frame to create new stories. Kudzanai-Violet Hwami focuses on planning and realizing an elective view of the body.

The black body takes center stage in all of her work and serves as a vehicle to communicate topics such as sexuality, orientation, otherness, memory, and adolescence.  

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